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Stuck in Ft. Myers

Thursday, May 3, 2007                                                                                                                                         Log: 1958
Ft Myers Beach, Florida

I  moved the boat from Clearwater down to Sarasota last Friday and Saturday and was joined there Sunday by Early Uncle Randy to resume the trip south. 

One would think that after 17 years of boating, I would know better than to run aground. However, I have done it again. We left Sarasota Monday for an easy day cruise down to Boca Grande. Rather than go about 10 miles offshore to the channel entrance, I took a shortcut called the “Swash Channel” which allows you to enter the ship channel from just off the beach. The channel is unmarked but I have done it many times and there are explicit instructions in the cruising guides. However, the channel has moved. A beach replenishment project a few months ago resulted in the channel being about 20 yards closer to shore than it was previously.

I was only creeping along at less than 5 knots but I somehow got hopelessly stuck in the sand. The tide was going out and the wind and waves began picking up which could have dangerously pounded us on the bottom with each wave. We elected to call a towing service which finally managed to drag us to deeper water. In doing so, however, they heeled the boat far over on its side and damaged one of the stabilizer fins.

We spent Monday night at Boca Grande marina and Tuesday we limped down to Ft. Myers to Gulf Marine. They hauled the boat out and found that, thankfully, the damage is not major. The fin and shaft are fine but a small part inside the boat had to be replaced. Of course, it was too late to order the part Tuesday so it was ordered yesterday and has already arrived. With luck, it will all be fixed this afternoon. We took advantage of the delay to fix several other minor problems including a leaking toilet and the saloon air conditioning.

While none of the problems are major, my schedule has once again been destroyed. I need to be home this weekend so there is no point in trying to go any further with just one day to travel. So I’ll get the repairs finished, I hope, and move the boat to a marina here so I can run home for a week. With luck, I’ll be back on May 14 to continue the slow journey to Svannah. 


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